Doorways to a rich past

The small gates in the old city served a very important purpose during the time of Qutb Shahis and Asaf Jahs

By   |  Published: 24th Sep 2017  12:05 amUpdated: 24th Sep 2017  12:06 am
The Dabeerpura darwaza. Photo: Hrudayanand

At the fall of Golconda in 1687, Golconda the seat of Qutb Shahi empire, the city of Hyderabad was plundered. All but Goshamahal Baradari, were not only looted but completely destroyed.
In the absence of no clear demarcated boundary of the city, no Qutb Shahi ruler thought of constructing a wall or ramparts, to protect it from an enemy attack. The last ruler, Abulhasan Tanashah started this work and a rampart was constructed from Puranapul to Dilli Darwaza (Afzal Gunj). But the end of Qutb Shahi sultanate left the work unfinished. However Mubariz Khan, the Mughal Subedar (Governor) of Deccan, took up the task. A rampart was constructed between Dilli Darwaza and Chadarghat. When Nawab Mir Qamaruddin Khan, the first Asaf Jah as a Mughal governor declared his independence and founded the Asaf Jahi dynasty in 1724, he ordered his son Salabth Jung to construct new ramparts around the city. Old ramparts were demolished and new ramparts were constructed with lobed bastions, 12 huge doors and 12 gates or khidkis (Khidki usually means a window, but here it refers to a smaller door or gate).

The names of the doors or darwazas of the day were Puranapul darwaza, Champa darwaza, Dilli darwaza, Chadarghat darwaza, Dabeerpura darwaza, Yakutpura darwaza, Katta Mir Jumla darwaza, Gowlipura darwaza, Aliabad darwaza, Lal darwaza, Fateh darwaza and Doodh Bowli darwaza. The khidkis were Charmahal Khidki (between Champa darwaza and Dilli darwaza), Haathi khidki (between Dilli darwaza and Chadarghat darwaza), Bood-e-Ali shah khidki (between Chadarghat darwaza and Dabeerpura darwaza), Mata ki khidki (between Dabeerpura darwaza and Yakutpura darwaza), Rang Ali Shah ki khidki (between Yakutpura darwaza and Katta Mir Jumla darwaza), Kot Kamandan ki khidki (Katta Mir Jumla darwaza and Gowlipura darwaza), Dhobiyon ki khidki ( between Gowlipura darwaza and Lal darwaza), Hasan Ali ki khidki (between Lal darwaza and Aliabad darwaza), Ghazibanda khidki (between Aliabad darwaza and Fateh darwaza), Kasaron ki khidki (Fateh darwaza and Doodh Bowli darwaza), Gola khidki (Doodh Bowli darwaza and Puranapul darwaza), Bhanwron ki khidki (between Puranapul darwaza and Champa darwaza).

A freshly painted Puranapul darwaza. Photo: Hrudayanand

Later two doors were added during the reign of Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan. One was the Afzal Gunj bridge darwaza and the other near Mussalam Jung bridge darwaza. Similarly a few more khidkis were also constructed, but were closed before 1914.

These doors made of fine wood with iron plates were closed by 8 pm in the night and opened at 4:30 am in the morning. As they closed by 8 pm, many people faced difficulties coming in or going out of the city for a burial. Hence these khidkis smaller in length and breadth were constructed in between the doors. All the doors and gates were guarded and managed by security consisting of city police and Paigah force. The latter were in-charge of the opening and closure of the doors, which was indicated by gunfire.

A check post of torch bearers was appointed to patrol from one gate to the other. The total area of all the doors and gates was six miles. Earlier cannons were also fixed at the bastions.
Presently only two doors, Puranapul and Dabeerpura exist, the remaining were dismantled during the city improvement and road widening works. Similarly one bastion, with cannon is still a witness to the past grandeur, namely Petla Burj, near Charmahal.

Like the ramparts of Istanbul and other historical cities, we failed to protect our heritage. Who bears the responsibility? Politicians, civil servants, road widening, or beautification of the city, it is regrettable that we lost our heritage in the name of development.